The benefits of sponsorship for audience engagement

I recently had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Desirée Clarke Noble, Managing Director, Head of Brand and Marketing, Europe and Asia-Pacific, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Capital Markets at the excellent Think! Sponsorship Conference. Our session focused on the impact that Sponsorship can have on effective audience engagement.
Sponsorship can deliver a unique mechanism for a business to engage with its target audience – whether they’re targeting consumers, businesses or employees. Identifying and maximising opportunities, creating meaningful bespoke engagement campaigns and utilising digital and technology as a delivery mechanism is arguably the holy grail of modern sponsorship. We examine how one business has done just that and created connections with their target audience that has led to measurable positive outcomes.
By way of a little background RBC are the presenting partner of the Royal Parks Half Marathon; an event created by Limelight Sports in partnership with The Royal Parks, which celebrated its 10th running in 2017. They also sponsor the Royal Bank of Canada Corporate 13.1 as well as RBC Race for the Kids, all of which creates the RBC Running Weekend.
So why do RBC partner with The Royal Parks Half? The main reasons highlighted by Des were:
Brand Reach and Recognition – As a B2B brand that sounds very similar to another bank from Scotland it was important for RBC to have an opportunity to drive brand awareness to differentiate themselves. The partnership provided exceptional brand reach directly to their target audience with the RBC logo part of the event logo lock up on collateral and communications. This resulted in significant brand recall pre- and post-event with positive feelings towards the partnership and a demonstration of RBC’s commitment to communities and well-being.
Corporate Social Responsibility – RBC Race for the Kids is an annual 5km family fun run and has taken place in London since 2010 and is one of 15 RBC Race for the Kids events that support youth charities all over the world. Last year, RBC helped raised £300,000 for GOSH at Race for the Kids on Saturday and then a further £150,000 was raised on the Sunday for 37 charities in the Royal Parks Half, presented by RBC. In total more than £5.5 million was raised for 530+ charities in a single weekend of running.
Employee & Client Engagement – RBC had over 300 team RBC runners made up of colleagues and clients from across all business areas including senior executives from Canada and the US. Over 120 clients from 42 client companies took part. Being able to participate in such an iconic and sought after event as guests of RBC was exceptionally positive. Client and colleague requests for runner places for 2018 started coming in on the day and immediately after. Demand for RBC places this year has been incredibly high. RBC staff and clients are a pretty competitive bunch so this event ticks all the right boxes.  
A Year-Round Communication Platform - The communications and marketing campaign is year-round including a Tube and Rail campaign that was live just after the London Marathon, capturing people who had been in town for that event. The RBC logo is part of the lock up so the bank is part of every communication, giving multiple engagement opportunities and constant brand presence.

As we move into the second year of the partnership, RBC is looking to create bespoke engagement campaigns and are planning activations on route, in the event village and as part of the RBC Corporate 13.1.

Sponsorship is clearly a hugely effective platform for audience engagement and we're excited to keep working with RBC to engage the Active World through the Royal Parks Half Marathon.

James Robinson // Group Commercial Director